WWII headstamping


This side-by-side shot of .30 Carbine clearly shows 2 different headstamps for the same factory and the same year. Is that a different stamping machine? How did the headstamping work? I assume it was done mechanically before primer insertion.


sks -

The headstamp is created as part of the forming process, typically in the final step of forming the head (base area). There is a tool, called a “bunter” which has the characters machined on it (or rather the material around the characters is removed, leaving the raised characters).

In the modern world, on commercial ammunition especially, there is a high degree of uniformity to the bunters. In earlier days, and especially under the exigencies of war, the uniformity may vary as different machinists produce the tool. Also, the tool wears and must be replaced, particularly in high volume applications as would be the situation here. They also break (although that is less an issue with modern steels than it was earlier). You will see quite a bit of US 1944 production with a single off-set “4” . . . this was a cost saving move, taking damaged / surplus 1943 bunters and grinding off the “3” (this was also done for 1955 production using altered 1954 tools). By the time of 1966’s “Great Society,” the concept of minimizing expenses was no longer part of government policy, and it doesn’t look like it will return for at least another two years, if ever.



Is there an ammo manufacturer/museum on the East Coast (or not too far from New York) which allows guided tours to see the ammo manufacturing process?